Want driving lessons in Toronto? There is no doubt that when it comes to driving schools, you get what you pay for. Reporter Kenyon Wallace and the Toronto Star launched an investigation and probed into Toronto driving schools. Know what you are getting in to.
I spoke with Young Drivers of Canada GTA Manger Angelo DiCicco about the issues brought up in the investigation and wanted to further understand the real deal about driving schools in Toronto. Most importantly, what are the questions consumers need to ask? When you break it down, how does this affect the public?
Q. Insurance, Insurance, Insurance. It is a big deal for customers and they want the best driving school teaching them to get a good insurance discount. Insurance is also a big deal for driving instructors in Toronto. How does insurance work for Toronto driving instructors and why should this matter to customers?
A. Many cheap driving schools only have personal insurance but not proper driving instructor insurance. Toronto Driving Instructors are required to have Driver Training School OPCF 6D – Certificate of automobile insurance for driver training school purposes. It is against the law to operate as a Driving Instructor without this but no one is checking. How would you find out about this lack of insurance coverage unless there was a crash? Think about it. Why would the consumer want to their loved one to operate a vehicle without proper insurance? It’s a liability issue. If something were to go awry during the driving lesson, there would not be proper coverage. That fact alone is a big reason why paying a couple hundred dollars more is worth it. The public needs to be informed about what they are getting into when they get behind the wheel.
As per the Star investigation: Toronto driving schools bending the rules to make a buck article: Quote “And drivers beware: insurance companies told the Star that if you are in an accident while taking lessons from these schools you may not be fully protected.”
Q. How can driving schools operating in Toronto offer their program at such a low price – I’m talking $299 or so for a driving course in Toronto. How is this possible?
A. Easy answer is that it is not possible. Typically, a driving school in Toronto would pay between $8,000-$10,000 a year in insurance per Instructor. Our Young Drivers Instructors pay $1,900 a year. The reason is that our cars don’t crash. Young Drivers of Canada puts our money where our mouth is and our intense training on the upstart for our Instructors and annual re-training annually is a major factor. How can a cheap driving school afford to offer their program at such a bargain basement price? Well, if you take into account vehicle insurance, number of hours in classroom, the number of hours in-vehicle, and training (provided they have training), the math does not work. If you’re shopping around for driving education and someone is quoting under $700 in Toronto then at least check that their school is on the MTO approved school list. It is just not possible to be playing by the rules and offering everything that the MTO mandates. A “bargain” should never compromise safety. If you think you are paying too little then you are.
Q. Why and how do some driving instructors cut corners?
A. Again, if you have a course that is so cheap, they have to cut corners to make anything. From Star gets action: Province warns driving schools to follow the rules article QUOTE:
“The Star found instructors are getting around this law by signing a contract with a ministry-approved driving school and then teaching new drivers under a different company name they set up on their own. When students request the full beginner driver education course, the instructor will refer them to the ministry-approved school for the in-class portion. This arrangement puts more cash in the pockets of instructors and saves students money because they don’t have to pay full course fees to a ministry-approved school.”
Highly qualified driving instructor won’t teach for low wages. What you don’t want to see as a customer is an Instructor who isn’t compensated properly and having to cut corners by having students sign off on completing an in-vehicle lesson they never did. The person signing off will be driving on the road with us. A student who cheats on their required driver training in the long run hurts us all.
Q. How do these licensing issues affect road safety?
A. Bottom line is that it is illegal to operate a driving school teaching a G1 student outside the BDE Approved Driving school system. Allowing these schools to operate does not serve road safety. The leading cause of death for Canadians 15 to 25 years old is still road crashes. These licensing issues and illegalities lead to an even bigger question – Are these driving schools causing crashes by not training people properly? The quality of the driver training programs is critical in reducing crashes. Having a course where: the in-class materials are poorly designed, the Instructors cut corners or there is no Instructor training does not serve the public. It’s important that there is a firm foundation of fundamentals as new drivers start out and learning to drive is not just about passing the road test. In the GTA and Toronto specifically, the roads can be quite unforgiving due to the volume of traffic and the varied skill levels of the road users. When it comes to driving schools, the consumer has the power to pick the solution of good, honest and thorough driver training that provides road safety for everyone.
People may be trying to get around the rules but don’t let the decisions of others put you or your new driver at risk. Be informed, shop around and get what you pay for.
For Driving Schools Toronto – Young Drivers of Canada Locations click here. Call Young Drivers in Toronto at phone 416-322-7000 for more information.
For questions you should ask when shopping around for a driving school click here to download our form.
Below are links to the Toronto Star investigative series articles: